Women-led Carib businesses to be highlighted at Washington summit

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says the catalytic role of women-led small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in the Caribbean will be highlighted at a major conference in Washington, D.C. next month.

The Washington-based financial institution said it will be collaborating with its Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) in hosting the 13th Annual Summit of the Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA) from Sept. 17-19.

The IDB said the three-day event brings together representatives from the banking sector, governments, leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the development finance community to exchange best practices and discuss business models that help build women’s wealth worldwide.

The summit will feature a special forum on “Achieving Sustainability through the Female Economy,” focusing on the link between corporate sustainability and serving the women’s market, as well as the power of data in advancing the business case for women’s financial inclusion, the IDB said.

Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the IDB, and Chris Sullivan, chair of GBA and deputy chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, will deliver opening remarks at the forum, the IDB said.

It said that in Latin America and the Caribbean, women-led SMEs make up a “high-growth yet underserved segment of the economy,” stating that the financing gap is the highest in the world at an estimated US$85 billion.

To provide incentives to banks and other financial intermediaries to test innovative, inclusive lending models, the IDB said it launched, in 2012, the Women Entrepreneurship Banking (weB) program, a joint effort between the IDB’s Structured and Corporate Finance Department and the MIF.

Under this program, the IDB said more than US$110 million in loans and technical assistance has been approved for 11 banks in the region to increase the access to credit for over 100,000 women-led SMEs during the next five years.

As sponsors of GBA, the IDB and the MIF urge financial institutions in the region that are interested in taking advantage of the women’s business market to attend this year’s GBA Annual Summit.

The IDB said the GBA is a global consortium of financial institutions driving women’s wealth creation.

It said GBA members include 39 financial institutions that work in more than 135 countries to build innovative, comprehensive programs that provide women entrepreneurs with vital access to finance, information, education and networking opportunities.

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